The Los Angeles Dodgers’ biggest free agency signings before the 2019 season have yet to really pan out. Joe Kelly has struggled out of the bullpen, and A.J. Pollock lasted a month before landing on the injured list in early May.
Pollock, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Dodgers in January, suffered an infection to his surgically repaired right elbow early in the season. He underwent successful surgery to remove metal hardware around his elbow’s growth plate.
However, Pollock had a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line put into his left arm in order to deliver antibiotics for killing the infection, which has to be taken out before he resumes baseball activities.
That meant that he would likely not return to the Dodgers until at least July, as he would need time to ramp up his rehab before the active roster. Pollock said that he would “push” through the recovery process from the third surgery on his elbow over the past decade.
It appears Pollock may be on the verge of doing just that as the PICC line is due to be removed within the next week, via AM 570 L.A. Sports:
“I still have the PICC line in for the antibiotics. Other than that, the arm they did surgery on, that’s strong. I’m doing a lot of stuff with it and things are moving pretty quick. … June 12 it gets removed. And then when that happens, I think stuff will start to move pretty quick.”
Once Pollock returns, though, he might not enjoy the same role that he started the season with.
Pollock was the Dodgers’ opening day center fielder and expected to get the lion’s share of playing time at that position. However, Alex Verdugo has excelled once taking over that role in the wake of Pollock’s injury.
Verdugo is batting .300/.353/.471 in 190 plate appearances this season, his first full year in the big leagues. His 1.8 wins above replacement is tied with Corey Seager for fifth-highest on the team.
Comparatively, Pollock was hitting just .223/.287/.330 with -0.7 WAR before landing on the injured list. Though, part of his struggles after a hot start to the season could be due to his elbow infection.
While Verdugo has definitely earned regular playing time, Pollock could still find a role filling in for Joc Pederson in left field, and occasionally Verdugo in center, against left-handed pitching.
Pollock carries a strong .825 career on-base plus slugging percentage against lefties, and his success against them is a primary reason why the Dodgers signed him to balance their lineup.